A map that the Dutch National Archives shared with the public recently excited the country. Seeing the map pointing to the location of four chests of valuables buried by Nazi soldiers almost 80 years ago, he takes his breath away in the village of 751 inhabitants. So what awaits amateur treasure hunters?
The calendars showed the spring months of 1945. Only a few days remained until the Netherlands was liberated from the Nazi occupation. Five soldiers of the German army buried four ammunition chests containing gold, precious stones and clocks in a forested area outside a village.
Nazi soldiers literally picked up these precious pieces from the street. It was estimated that the value of the items found in a bank vault exploded in the city of Arnhem in 1944 and scattered on the streets could be in the millions.
However, there was something important that the soldiers did not know when burying the loot. Helmut Sonder, a soldier of the German army, was very close to them.
Sonder, who was lying in the bushes due to his wound, had carefully watched the spot where the other soldiers had buried the chests and had it etched in his memory. Later, he immortalized what he saw with the very detailed map he drew. The map included details such as (near three poplar trees, 50 to 70 centimeters deep.
It is unknown what happened to Sonder afterward. However, the map he drew is currently stored in the Dutch National Archives in The Hague.
TREASURE HUNTERS FLOUD TO THE VILLAGE
As part of the annual “publicity day” organized by the institution at the beginning of January, thousands of documents whose confidentiality had expired were shared with the public. Sonder’s map was among those documents.
The forested land where the Nazi soldiers are thought to have buried the chests is today within the boundaries of the village of Ommeren, with a population of 751. When the map became the agenda of the Dutch press, all eyes were turned to this small village. “Will we find the Nazi treasure?” In hopes of that, he breathed in Ommeren, an hour away from Amsterdam.
Ommeren, which is frequented by cyclists and campers in the summer, is buried in complete silence during the winter months. Therefore, the attack of treasure hunt enthusiasts caused an important activity in the life of the people living in the village.
Klaas Tammes, the former mayor of the district to which the village is affiliated, said, “We have become a well-known place thanks to this. This is a good thing.”
Some of the public shares Tammes’ excitement, but there are those who are not satisfied with those who take the metal detector, pickaxe, shovel and dive into the forest.
In a photo circulating in city dwellers’ message groups, a man is seen digging half-buried in the ground.
THERE’S ALSO FINDING A BOMB WHEN SEEKING TREASURE
However, it is unclear whether this mysterious treasure, which blew the minds of the Dutch and made headlines in the world press, is still in the place marked on Sonder’s map.
“I doubt that,” historian Joke Honders, who lives in the neighboring town and works at the local museum in Ommeren, told The New York Times.
Claiming that he determined the true location of the treasure with the help of a history atlas and a hand-drawn map, Honders said, “As far as I know, there hasn’t been a digger there yet. I won’t tell you either.”
It’s unclear what will happen to the treasure if someone finds it. “I don’t think I’ll keep the valuables inside if I find them. These are all stolen items. There is a lot of negativity loaded on these pieces,” Honders said.
Amateur treasure hunter Sebastiaan Hoogenberg, who shared the valuable items he found all over the Netherlands with his followers on his YouTube channel, said that searching for treasure in the region could be dangerous. Because there are unexploded bombs from the Second World War under the ground.
The Ommeren Municipality’s website warns treasure hunters to stay away from the area. Because, according to local laws, it is forbidden to search for treasure on the land.
Municipality spokesperson Birgit van Aken-Quint said that after the map was shared with the public, many people called them and said, “I know the exact location of the treasure. I’ll reveal it for money.” Van Aken-Quint stated that interest has partially decreased in the past few weeks, and that 5 people have applied for official permission to search for the treasure.
Ommeren had experienced such archaeological excitement before. In 2016, three treasure hunters found a chest containing 31 gold coins from the Roman Empire.
FOUR CALLS MADE, ALL FOUR EMPTY
According to documents in the Dutch National Archives, rumors about the treasure first began to spread among Dutch soldiers stationed in Germany in 1946. When an agency responsible for finding and returning stolen assets to their owners received intelligence about the ballot boxes in December 1946, official searches were conducted in the area.
The first search in January 1947 failed because the ground was frozen. A second call a few weeks later could not be reached because the metal detector was broken. Sonder, who had drawn the map for the third search in the summer of 1947, was taken from Germany to the Netherlands and asked to indicate the location of the treasure. But still nothing was found.
The fourth and final trial took place in August 1947. Again, returning empty-handed, the authorities concluded that the treasure was not at the place where it was buried.
Ommeren residents say they have never heard of the treasure before. Tammes, “It was a complete surprise for us. This story is not known at all here,” he said.
Annet Waalkens, One Of The Researchers Of The Dutch National Archives , whose collection has hundreds of maps, said, “We came across this map completely by chance. When we saw the map, we found our own treasure. Seeing that beautiful paper that is turning yellow makes one feel emotional.”
MAYBE THE SOLDIERS COME COME AND TAKE IT BACK
It is possible, of course, that the whole thing is Sonder’s fabrication, but the documents regarding the searches show that the Dutch authorities believed that the treasure was real.
Of course there are other possibilities. One of them is that the treasure was found in one of the searches made in 1947 and it was hidden from higher authorities.
The third, and according to many, the strongest possibility is that the Nazi soldiers who buried the treasure returned quietly at one point and dug it out of the ground.
Neither of these scenarios has been proven. Moreover, it is unknown whether Sonder is still alive or not.
On the other hand , there are those who do not participate in the excitement of TREASURE. Dicky Briene, 76, who has lived in the same house in Ommeren for 54 years, is one of them. Briene said she didn’t see anyone with shovels and metal detectors, adding: “I think this will fail. They won’t find anything.”
The New York Times’ “Nazi Soldiers Buried a Treasure. Nearly 80 Years Later, the Search Goes On.” Extracted from the article titled.